This past Christmas Santa brought us Bear Track girls a trail camera. We'd talked for years about getting one but never got around to it, so I was very excited when one showed up under our tree.
We have five acres of mixed habitat. Historically it was black oak barren, but years of human abuse have left it covered with autumn olive and other invasive species. It's part open grassland, part shrubland, part mixed hardwood/conifer woods. We have lots of critters, some we knew, some we only suspected. The trail cam would help verify who is here and when they come around.
The biggest challenge was figuring out where to put it. We first put it by the chicken coop, but didn't get any pictures of anything but the dog. We next tried behind my studio, where the bird feeders are, thinking they would draw in critters. We did get a few good shots, like this white-tailed deer...
...and this terrible twosome, angling for the suet and getting a drink from my wagon bird bath.
But mostly we got pictures of me filling the feeders, or of the dog, or
of nothing at all. I think most of the action took place so far away
the sensor just didn't pick up the movement.
It is recommended that the camera be placed where it faces north to reduce glare from the sun on the lens. We were finding it hard to find a tree of the right size in the right place facing a worn path, but finally one day, out looking for morel mushrooms, we found the perfect spot. The trail it faces passes into our neighbor's property and through this sheltered spot, and it has proved to be a good choice.
Right off the bat we got lots of rabbit photos. Rabbits are good because they're a prey animal and will bring other animals into this area.
Then the camera captured this wonderful pose by a doe. I laugh because I could not have taken a better shot than this if I'd been sitting in a blind being eaten by mosquitoes. This is much more pleasant!
This next image was a big surprise. I have only seen a turkey on our property once in six years, so to catch this hen crossing the trail was a thrill.
Nice shot of two white-tail rumps.
Finally we got a shot of what we had been hoping for--an animal we knew was out there but had never seen on our property. This gorgeous coyote paused briefly on its way to our neighbor's open field. We have heard their cries and calls from time to time, sometimes distant, sometimes no more than a few hundred feet from the house. This was validation. Now if we can only get one facing the camera!
And just last week, this buck paused for his portrait. More than just a button buck, I'll be curious to see how his rack develops this summer.
My show season kicks off in earnest this weekend at the East Lansing Art Festival. Check it out at www.elartfest.com!